Archive for September, 2010

Hispanic Heritage

by: Jennifer Perez

Just what is Hispanic Heritage Month?  According to Hispanic Heritage Month.gov, “Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.”

As a teacher, I feel that it is extremely important to create ‘experiences’ for my students. If they do not have the schema, or background knowledge, to support certain lessons, then that’s alright!  It is my job as their teacher to help them to create it!

Each year, I brainstorm ways of creating lessons that teach my students the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month.  I like to incorporate:

  1. Technology-Short video clips and virtual tours are excellent ways to ‘hook’ my students.
  2. Text- I enjoying searching for a variety of text and flooding the room with MANY options.  A few options include poetry, Realistic Fiction, articles and magazine clips.
  3. Writing- I encourage my students to reflect upon their thinking

So where do I start?

There are tons of resources at our fingertips…we just need to locate them and use them!  Personally, I always begin with an Internet search to find the most up to date information; whether it is in books, articles, sites or virtual tours. Next, I determine what I can and cannot use for my current class.  As teachers, we know that each year brings a new set of students, completely different from the previous year.  (It is important to keep this in mind when planning any subject!)

Suggested Resources to use in planning your Hispanic Heritage Month Unit.

After some research, I have pulled together the following resources to help me teach my students about Hispanic Heritage Month.

  1. http://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/
  2. http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/hispanic/
  3. http://www.biography.com/hispanic-heritage/

This site contains excellent short clips to share with your students.

  1. http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/heritage_month/index.html
  2. My Diary from Here to There by: Amada Irma Perez
  3. Harvesting Hope: The story of Cesar Chavez by: Kathleen Krull
  4. Famous Hispanic Americans by: Janet Morey

There are MANY other resources available out there that can be used to create amazing lessons for your students.  I hope that these few will get you on your way!  Please feel free to share any other resources you may find!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 9/26/10

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September 27, 2010 at 7:41 PM Leave a comment

Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten and First Grade! (Book Giveaway!)

by: Jennifer Perez

Get excited about this book giveaway!  One lucky winner will win a set of 3 books including: Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten!, Let’s Get Ready for First Grade AND Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten! A Prepararse Para Kindergarten!

I have had the opportunity to have these books for about 5 months and I LOVE them!  I have given some to my friend’s whose children are pre-school age, used them in my own classroom and now am hosting a book give-away.  One of the greatest aspects of these books are the pages are dry erase.  This means the books can be used over and over again in any order you see fit!  These books would be absolutely perfect for any classroom and/or home with children!

Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten! by: Stacey Kannenberg

Let’s Get Ready for First Grade! by: Stacey Kannenberg

Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten!  A prepararse Para Kindergarten! by: Stacey Kannenberg

To enter the giveaway:

Leave a comment explaining why you’d like to win and answer the following questions:

1. What percentage of book sales will be donated to literacy programs?

2. Ms. Best is the classroom teacher of which grade level?  Kindergarten or First Grade?

3. Who is the author of this book series?

  • The contest will end November 3, 2010 at Midnight
  • The winner will be chosen by Random.Org
  • Contest winner will be contacted by email
  • If no response is received within 72 hours, a new winner will be chosen

Good Luck and Happy Learning!

DISCLAIMER:
*I received the review products at no charge to evaluate and express my opinion. No other compensation was provided*

September 22, 2010 at 6:02 AM Leave a comment

Lowe’s Build and Grow Clinics

by: Jennifer Perez

My daughter with her super cool red fire truck from Lowe’s! We had a ball putting it together as a family!

Join Lowe’s Build & Grow Clinics Saturday, September 25, 2010 @ 10:00am. The clinics are a way of building your child’s self-confidence by creating an opportunity for them to “make” something!  They then get the chance of saying, “Hey Mom & Dad!  I did it!” We as parents know those moments oh so well.

When our little ones believe in themselves….there is nothing that can hold them back!  So, why not take them to Lowe’s next Saturday and continue the confidence building?  Not only will your kiddo walk out with a super neat red fire truck, but they will also receive a certificate of merit upon completion of the project!

Check out Lowe’s web site to find the location nearest to you and your family!  It’ll be a family day no one will forget!

September 20, 2010 at 6:00 AM 1 comment

Parent/Teacher Conferences

by: Jennifer Perez

In Hillsborough County, Florida -the children have now been in school for four weeks.  My…how the time does fly!  Knowing this, do you think it’s a little too soon for me to begin having Parent/Teacher conferences? (Really, tell me what you think!)  I actually held my first Parent/Teacher conference this week and…it went well!  I have never been the teacher to wait for Conference Night to roll around before conferencing with my parents.  I have been with my kiddos for four weeks, have had an opportunity to get to know them and can already see some of their strengths and weaknesses.  It is my job to work with my student’s parents, as a team, to make sure our kiddos continue to work toward expected benchmarks.  I don’t need to wait another four weeks to tell my parents how they can help their child at home….I start NOW!

Where do I start?

Most schools should have an approved Conference Request form.  I suggest :

  1. Sending this form out at least one week prior to the scheduled Conference date.  This way, the parent/guardian has some time to plan in advance to attend the Conference.
  2. Allowing your self a minimum of 30 minutes for each Conference.  I learned this the hard way my 1st year.  Not knowing any better, I scheduled a few Conferences after school one day, assuming that they would only take 15 minutes a piece.  (Boy, was I wrong!)  What I failed to account for was the fact the parents would have something they wanted to discuss and/or ask.  How silly of me to think I would be the only one talking for 15 minutes.  (Growing pains!  Please learn from my mistake.)

What to discuss at the Conference?!

Knowing what to discuss at a Parent/Teacher Conference was a learning experience for me as well.  After about a dozen conferences my 1st year of teaching, what I learned has helped me tremendously in my career.

Learned Lesson:  Each Conference will be different because EACH child is different!

A few topics to consider discussing are:

  1. Content area progression such as – Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, Writing, etc…
  2. Upcoming projects
  3. Tutoring availability
  4. Any upcoming classroom tests as well as Standardized Tests
  5. Classroom Behavior
  6. Extra Credit opportunities

And my favorite….

7.Discuss some positives about each child.

Trust me on this…parents really do appreciate it when they hear great things about their child.  Don’t let the conference be a ‘you need to do this or you need to do that’ session.  After all, we are talking about children and they do need their praise to build their self-confidence! I like to start my conferences with something like, “J.J. is really an eager learner and is always ready for a challenge.” Or J.J. has such a positive attitude which has a direct effect on his learning!”

And now that I have Conferenced…..?

I highly recommend keeping some sort of record of what was discussed during the conference.  You never know when you made need those notes to turn back to.  I would also recommend at least one more Conference at some point during the school year to follow up on any other issues that need to be addressed.  If you can Conference at once per 9 weeks, that would be ideal!!

Happy Conferencing!

© Jennifer Perez 9/16/10

September 17, 2010 at 6:36 PM 2 comments

Ways to help your child’s teacher

by: Jennifer Perez

Being a teacher is one of the most heart-warming and fulfilling careers out there.  There are so many aspects of being a teacher that I just absolutely love:

  1. Creating exciting lesson plans
  2. Working with eager learners
  3. Attending Professional Development
  4. Meeting new families
  5. Meeting needs of my students and their families
  6. The list can go ON AND ON!

During my teaching career, I have had the privilege of meeting all types of people: my students, their families, tutors, guidance counselors, therapists, social workers and more.   What do all of these groups have on common?  They all agree that parental support and involvement have an impact on student learning!  You may be wondering, “do your students really believe that or are you just saying that?” Here is your answer…YES!  They do believe that their learning is impacted positively when their parents are involved in their school and education.  (I conduct a brief one-one-one interview with my students the 1st week of school where I ask all types of questions about their learning and learning goals.)

Knowing this, I really try to get my student’s parents involved in as much as possible.  I do keep in my mind that everyone’s home life is different.  Some families have two working parents, other families have only one parent and that parent works, other students live with relatives other than parents and some students are even foster children.  The following is a list I’ve compiled over the years of ways that parents/guardians can get involved with their child’s education.

Ways to get involved at home

  • Check student homework daily

– If assigned correctly, homework should be a review of lessons learned that day or some time during the week.  By reviewing your child’s homework, you are ensuring that your child is applying lessons previously learned.  If your child is not performing well on said assignments then speak with their teacher immediately. This way, the teacher may continue working with your child in that specific area.

  • If school planners are used, check to see that the child is writing his/her homework.

-This will help with building your child’s responsibility.  Around 3rd grade, it may be a good idea to have the ‘responsibility’ chat with your child.

  • Encourage your child to read daily.

I cannot stress the importance of reading each and every day!  Your children can read anything-just as long as they are reading!  To change it up a little bit try: magazines for kids, comics, online stories and poems.

  • Each evening, make sure all school supplies are in your child’s book bag ready to go for the next day.

One of my classroom rules for my students is “Be prepared to learn each and every day.”  This means, bring everything to school that you need in order to be successful.  If your child forgets their homework-that is not being prepared.  If they accidentally left their silent reading book or pencils in the car, they are NOT prepared.  Take a few minutes each evening to make sure that your child has everything they need for school the next day.  Trust me, kids sometimes forget the most obvious things!

Ways to get involved at school

  • Volunteer in your child’s classroom.

Volunteering in your child’s classroom does not need to be an all day affair.  Ask the teacher if there is something you can do to help in the classroom that will take no more than a few hours.  I guarantee the teacher will gladly find an area where your help can be used!  Trust me, any help is helpful!!

  • Join the school’s PTA and be an ‘active’ member.

By joining the school’s PTA, you will be signing up to speak on behalf of ALL children-not just your child.  You will be able to help make decisions at your child’s school that can have a positive impact on ALL children.  I suggest taking a look at the PTA National site at www.PTA.ORG.

  • If you cannot volunteer in person, ask your child’s teacher if there is anything you can do or donate to the class.

-Teachers understand that parents have to work so they not expecting you to come in and volunteer in the classroom.  If you can, then wonderful!  If not, that’s all right too!  There are many other ways to help out without physically coming to school.  You can:

  1. Replenish classroom supplies once per quarter.
  2. Send some disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizer when you find them on sale. (Teachers LOVE these! TRUST me on this one!)
  3. Provide the classroom with snacks once per month-the kiddos will LOVE the unexpected treats.  These snacks can be used for incentives or just a necessary brain break.
  4. Donate any age-appropriate books to the classroom library.  Books-need I say more?
  5. Donate any type of gently used educational games.  Scrabble, Monopoly and even Chutes and Ladders are all great keep-sakes for any classroom.

As you can see, there are MANY ways in which you can help your child’s teacher, whether directly in the classroom or not.  Becoming a presence in your child’s classroom and/or school will directly impact your child’s educational positively. If your child knows that you are coming to school ‘one’ day this week, but they do not know when, they will be more apt to be on their “A” game so to speak.  They will be less likely to act up in class because they know you are in constant communication with their teacher.  There can be no excuse of, “my teacher didn’t tell me to do such and such,” or “No, my teacher didn’t assign any homework” because you, as the parent/guardian would already know the answers!  Think about how powerful this truly can be…begin helping your child’s teacher NOW and you and your family will reap the benefits!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 9/12/10

September 13, 2010 at 6:02 AM Leave a comment

Don’t worry…P is happy!

by: Jennifer Perez

I have officially completed my 4th week Back to School!!  I cannot believe how quickly the time continues to fly by, and yet, I still worry about my daughter Peyton.  I have been a stay at home mom for practically her entire life so making the decision to go back to work was extremely difficult… for me that is!

Thank the good Lord; while I am at work, my sweet angel gets to stay with my wonderful mother-in-law-A.K.A Nani.  (I really do mean wonderful!  I l was blessed with her for sure!) So, after knowing how wonderful my mother in law is and how close her and Peyton were….I find myself still asking myself, “why are you still worrying?”

Now, being a parent myself, I know that this question goes without asking.  I’m a parent; of course I am still going to worry!  From what I hear, parents ALWAYS worry about their children-even after they have married and moved out of the house!

It is so heart-warming each and every day, when I pick up my daughter to see that huge grin on her face.  One that tells me- “MOM, I’m so happy to see you AND MMOOOMMM- where have you been?”  I love getting the daily run down on how their day was spent….I’m a numbers person so I really do enjoy this part!  A sample day can look like this:

8:15~ Peyton wakes up

8:15-9:15 ~Breakfast and morning T.V. time

9:30-11:00 ~ go to the mall for exercise and carousel riding (Yes, we have a carousel IN one of our malls)

11:15-12:00pm ~ Lunch and afternoon milk

12:15-2:15pm ~ NAP

2:15-3:15pm ~ Enrichment time: reading, puzzles, games

3:30- Mommy and P time!!!

A huge part of keeping P and I BOTH happy is that we have always followed a schedule-since she was about 8 weeks old! (But that is a different story!) I have complete confidence in my mother-in-law and it is time for me to stop worrying so much.  I need to remember that my daughter is in VERY capable hands while I am doing something that I love- TEACH and grow young minds!

To all of you teachers out there – I THANK YOU and respect you for ALL that you DO!!!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez  9/7/10

September 11, 2010 at 9:28 PM Leave a comment

Which suffix(es) should I teach?

by: Jennifer Perez

The school year is underway, and many of us teachers have had an opportunity to dig into our state’s standards.   Why do we do this?  We do this to determine what our students need to learn this year and then we plan accordingly.   One such item on the Grade 3 Florida Reading/Language Arts Standards are Suffixes.

Benchmark Number ~ LA.3.1.4.1

Benchmark Description ~ The student will use knowledge of the pronunciation of root words and other morphemes (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, derivational endings) to decode words.

What is a suffix exactly?

According to The University of Alabama, “A group of letters with a special meaning appearing at the end of a word is called a suffix.”

Where do I go from here?

Great question!  This is where/when your State Standards come into the picture.  Before planning, it would be a wonderful idea to take a look at your State Standards and see if there are specific ones listed.  In Florida’s case, there are no suffixes listed.  However, I did attend a training over the summer where a Professional Development book was provided.  In this book, it was stated that the following suffixes would be the most beneficial for children in Grades 3-6.  The suffixes are:

  1. ER
  2. EST
  3. FUL
  4. LESS
  5. ABLE
  6. IBLE

Since this information was provided to me at a District Training, I am going to begin with these six suffixes.  From here, I will determine the rest based on my student’s needs.

How Mrs. Perez will teach and use prefixes:

During Morning Work once per week

Guided Reading

Center activities weekly

Homework Assignments

Writing Assignments

Journaling/Reflective writing!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 9/6/10

September 8, 2010 at 5:49 PM Leave a comment

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